Monday, 28 February 2011

Weekly Countdown: 7 Plotting the route

Another week passes and the excitement is beginning to mount, things are coming together, and it's getting closer now.

The eBay items all sold, and in all I made over £200! Quite a result I think, and so I'll start to have a look for more items to sell. However, unless I get a largish windfall in the next 7 weeks (the lottery tickets have been bought!), I think that I'll have to resign myself to not having quite enough, and letting the plastic take the strain.

As I mentioned in my last post, the new maps for the GPS arrived, and so this week I've spent some time inputting Points of Interest (PoIs), and playing around with routes. At the moment, my itinerary is looking like this:

Week 1:
18April, Monday: Arrive in Chicago
19April, Tuesday: Pick up bike & ride to Bloomington, IL
20April, Wednesday: Ride to St. Louis, MO
21April, Thursday: On to Springfield, MO
22April,  Friday: Overnight in Tulsa, OK
23April, Saturday: Ride to Clinton, OK
24April, Sunday: Ride to Amarillo, TX

Week 2:
25April, Monday: Ride to Santa Fe, NM
26April, Tuesday: Rest day in Santa Fe
27April, Wednesday: Ride to Holbrook, AZ

28April, Thursday: Sidetrip to Grand Canyon, AZ
29April, Friday: Ride to Needles, CA (Happy Birthday Simon, and happy wedding to William and Kate)
30April, Saturday: Laughlin River Run
01May, Sunday: Side trip to Las Vegas, NV

Week 3:
02May, Monday: Rest day in Las Vegas.
03May, Tuesday: Back onto Route 66 and ride to Victorville, CA
04May,  Wednesday: The last stage of my Rt66 adventure to Santa Monica - I've done it! Probably overnight up the coast somewhere (Santa Barbara?).
05May, Thursday: Continue up the PCH to Monterey, CA
06May, Friday: The last full day - make it to San Fransisco
07May, Saturday: Return Bike & Fly Home
08May, Sunday: Arrive back home
I'm sure it'll be fine tuned and tweaked, right up until my departure, and probably during the trip too. For example, my gut feeling is that the second half, from Texas onwards, will be the more interesting part, so I'm looking at whether I should speed up the first part so I can spend more time on the second.

Of course, the trip is not just about riding across America, it's about experiencing the places and meeting the people, so if I find somewhere that's really nice I will spend a bit of time there. Equally if there's not much of interest around I can zip onto the Interstate for a bit.

This week I'm going to continue with the GPS side of things, and, most importantly, decide on my travel arrangements to and from the US.

Days to departure: 49
Paydays to departure: Payday today, so I suppose just 1 left.
Funding: $$$Covered by my credit limit$$$

Monday, 21 February 2011

Weekly Countdown: 8. It's all about the money

The past week has been busy, and I've got some organising done.

Some of my eBay listings ended last night, everything sold, and raised the princely sum of £45 or so. By the time eBay and PayPal take their cut, that will be cut down to less than £40, but it's forty quid for stuff I had no need for, so it comes in handy and gets frees some space at home.

The big dollar items I'm selling were listed for 10 days, so they don't end until Wednesday (an old Garmin Street Pilot III, and a touring screen for my bike that I wasn't happy with). I've got high hopes for them, and might clear close to £100 - and it all goes into the Route 66 fund!

This past week I've been thinking about accomodation on my trip. I've got a good deal on the Crowne Plaza in central Chicago on my first night - $90 sounds good to me anyway, so that's booked. Of course you have to add tax on everything, but even so, it's a nice hotel and very central. That's important as I'll be without transport until I pick up the bike the next day, so I don't want to be in the middle of nowhere.
I also looked at hotels around Laughlin when I'm planning to be there for the River Run, but needless to say, they are in demand, so quite expensive. I might be better off staying in Needles or Kingman.
I looked at hotels in Las Vegas too, and found I could get a room there for $30 per night (Sundsay and Monday night) at the Imperial Palace hotel on the strip, but reviews are not great. Then again, it's just me on my own for 2 nights, and it's better than camping! I'm going to need some cheap hotels on the way to keep the average down to my bugeted $75 per night, so I'm still deciding about that.

I've also ordered the US maps for my Garmin Zumo GPS. At £45 the price has come down quite a lot since I first started looking a couple of years ago - then it was cheaper to buy a GPS over there than buy additional maps! So that's where the money's gone from the tat I sold on eBay this week, so you could say that the maps were free! Next week I start the long but enjoyable task of mapping the route into the GPS mapping software. Can't wait!

Days to departure: 54
Paydays to departure: Still 2
Funding: $$$Desperatley looking for more eBay-able items$$$

Monday, 14 February 2011

Weekly countdown: 9

In only nine weeks from today I will be boarding a flight to Chicago to start the adventure!
The route is pretty much planned out. I will book a hotel for the first night in Chicago, and I'll pick the bike up the next day. After that, I will book my accommodation from day to day, depending on how far I get and what I see on the way. The only other fixed date I have is to be in San Fransisco on Saturday 7 May to drop the bike off and get the plane home.

So, all that's left is planning what to take! David Badcock, a friend of mine who has done this sort of thing a number of times once told me: Before the trip, make a pile of all the things you want to take with you, and then make a second pile of the money you have for the trip. Now, halve the size of the first pile, and double the size of the second, then you'll be close to what you need. This sounds a bit harsh, but he is the voice of experience, so on this I'll take his word.

I'm planning on taking as little as I can with me. After all, the US is not a backward country, and if I'm desperate for anything I'll be able to get it there, all I need is a credit card! So, other than my riding gear (need to cater for wet weather and for warm), a few t-shirts and changes of shreddies, I only need to take my techy gadgets.

I'll be taking 2 cameras: my Sony A200 DSLR, and Leica C-Lux 2 compact. I'll also be taking my iGotU GPS tracker to geotag everything, and to be able to plot my trip. Then there's the laptop. This is needed to manipulate the photos, update the blog, and make copies of everything, in case I lose them. It'll also come in handy for a quick fix of on-line poker when I have some time to spare.

To navigate on the bike, I'll be taking my Garmin Zumo 550 sat nav. I need to download a new set of maps, as it only has Europe at the moment. I shall spend many a happy hour loading up the routes and points of interest to that!

And, as far as that other pile is concerned, I spent most of yesterday afternoon listing unwanted items on eBay!

Days to departure: 63
Paydays to departure: Still 2
Funding: $$$Fingers crossed that my eBay sales do the business!$$$

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The deed is done!

There, I've gone and done it. I am now committed (and some say, should be). Today I passed a sizable amount of money to EagleRiders for the bike rental for my trip across America.

So now $3000 lighter,  a Harley Davidson Electra Glide is booked for collection at Chicago on April 19th, and together we will travel through 9 states to Santa Monica, California. Then we'll travel up the coast, and eventually will part in San Francisco 18 days later.

So, there we are. Having made the non-refundable payment, the trip is on, there's no going back now!

Days to departure: 68
Paydays to departure: 2
Funding: $$$Less than yesterday!$$$